The economy of Barbados benefited both from the labor of Indian captives and from their isolated position away from indigenous zones of conflict and economic competition. The Anglo-Barbadians accessed labor in Guiana, the region between the Orinoco and Amazon Rivers. Barbados was a secure location, away from the indigenous war zones, trade routes, and markets for captives in Guiana. In this context, the Barbadian sugar industry flourished without threat from Indians’ reprisals. Seventeenth-century ethnographies and modern scholarship have emphasized the limited nature of this Indian slave trade, or the finite roles that Indian slaves played in colonial economies. However, the archival sources I use provide evidence that colonists routinely exploited Guiana for native slaves, and once on Barbados, the latter contributed a broad range of skills to the early economy of the island.

You do not currently have access to this content.